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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Bidders in final push
By Osasu Obayiuwana
BBC Sport, Zurich

Egyptian sports minister Ali El Din Helal
Egyptian sports minister Ali El Din Helal is in Zurich for the vote

The countdown to Saturday's vote for the host of the 2010 World Cup finals continues as the five African bidders put the final touches to their presentation plans on Thursday.

Bid delegations from Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Libya and Egypt visited Fifa headquarters to rehearse the plea they will be making to members of the 24-man Fifa executive committee on Friday.

Morocco got the first dress rehearsal, which began at 0600 GMT, with Tunisia, South Africa and Libya taking their turns after two-hour intervals.

Egypt, who prepared under the watching eyes of their sports minister, Ali El Din Helal, had the last practice.

Despite being ranked behind South Africa in the report released by the 2010 World Cup inspection committee, bid head Mohammed El Siagy told BBC Sport that they approach the 15 May vote with optimism.

"We are confident and fully prepared to convince Fifa of the viability of our bid," El Siagy said.

Former United Nations secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali was supposed to have played a key role in Egypt's bid presentation.

But an inability to find a timely flight connection to meet an earlier planned engagement in another European country left him with no option but to pull out.

Meanwhile, South African president Thabo Mbeki and his predecessor, Nelson Mandela, are expected to arrive in Zurich on Friday morning, according to their bid chief Danny Jordaan.

South African President Thabo Mbeki
South African President Thabo Mbeki will be in Zurich for the vote

Jordaan told BBC Sport that both men are expected to make an address in support of their bid to the Fifa executive committee.

Tunisia meanwhile are insisting that it is sticking with its bid to co-host the 2010 World Cup with Libya even though Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said it's out of the question.

But it's only chance of surviving appears to be if Fifa's executive committee goes against their president on Friday and agrees that co-hosting remains an option.

"It's a political decision, our government thinks that, economically, it's more responsible for Tunisia to co-host an event so big," Tunisian Football Association president Hamouda Ben Ammar said.

"We could not do it on our own."

Blatter however last week said co-hosting was not an option in 2010.

"There will be no co-hosting because at least three of the associations (South Africa, Morocco and Egypt) are able to organize the World Cup individually," he said

Each nation seeking to become the first African nation to host the World Cup - since the tournament's inception in 1930 - has 30 minutes to make their presentation.

Morocco will make the first presentation at 1300 GMT, with Egypt concluding proceedings at 1730 GMT.


SEE ALSO
Fifa's 2010 World Cup report
04 May 04  |  African
Who will host the 2010 World Cup?
07 May 04  |  African
Saturday's election procedure
11 May 04  |  African
Hayatou urges 'free' vote
30 Apr 04  |  African



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